Can Dogs and Cats Get Sick From One Another?

In rare instances, dogs and cats can transmit illnesses. Regular vet visits can reduce the risk of transmission and keep your pets safe.

Jan 31, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
can dogs and cats get sick from one another

Pets get sick just like humans, and, in rare cases, illnesses may be spread between cats and dogs. It’s pretty common for people to have both dogs and cats in the same home (if you’re lucky, they get along). So, what happens when one of them gets ill?

Most illnesses will only be specific to one species, but there are a few that could be spread. These shared illnesses are easily treatable as long as you keep an eye out for symptoms and stay up to date on vet checkups.

What Illnesses Could They Pass On?

Orange Tabby Cat Beside Fawn Short coated Puppy on Grass
Image credit: Pexels

There are a variety of illnesses that cats may catch from dogs, and vice versa. Even if they’re easily treatable, you want to do your best to make sure all your pets don’t catch it. Let’s go through the most common illnesses that may be passed on between the two species and tips for spotting the often subtle symptoms.

Worms and Parasites

Woman Practising Yoga on Terrace with Cat and Dog
Image credit: Pexels

This sneaky yet burdening common disease can be found in dogs and cats. Worms are parasites that make a home inside the body, the most common being roundworms, tapeworms, and lungworms. They’re most often transmitted through pet feces.

Cats are the main culprits for getting worms, but if your dog is prone to sniffing around your cat’s litter box, your pup may get infested with worms, too. It can be hard to see whether your pet has worms unless you spot it in their poop.

Some more obvious signs are diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. The best treatment for worms are veterinary-approved products. By regularly cleaning your cat’s litter box, you can prevent the spread of parasites among your furry friends.

The Common Cold

Person Holding a Brown Dog and a Long Haired Cat
Image credit: Pexels

Cats and dogs are prone to the common cold, just like humans. It’s commonly referred to as kennel cough, giving the assumption that it’s only passed between dogs. That’s not the case. Just like how we humans can get each other sick, the same applies to your pets.

Dogs are the ones who have the cold first, but shared bacteria at home means your cat may pick it up, too. The main symptom is, quite literally, a cough. Occasionally, they may show signs of a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Let your pet take it easy for a few days, and they should recover in no time. If the cold persists, make sure to get them checked at the vet.


Cat and Dog Sitting Together on Table
Image credit: Pexels

Despite the name, ringworm is not actually a worm. It’s a type of fungus that shows up on the skin as an itchy circular rash. Just like humans with ringworm, this common skin condition can easily be spread between animal species, such as dogs and cats.

Ringworm may be harder to spot in pets with long hair. Keep an eye out for patchy hair, itchy skin, and even brittle and broken nails. If you spot ringworm in one of your pets, keep them isolated from the other as soon as possible. Medical shampoo and treatment should sort them out in a matter of weeks.

Keeping an Eye on Symptoms

Dog Sniffing Cat through Garden Fence
Image credit: Pexels

It’s important to keep a lookout for any unusual behaviors or symptoms in your pet. You know them best, so it’s usually super easy to tell when they’re acting a bit off. As we’ve mentioned in each section above, there are a few symptoms you’ll notice in disease and illness, all the way from subtle hints to standout issues.

If you notice that something is a bit off with your pet, start by checking the skin under their fur, safely inspecting their feces, and keeping an eye on appetite and vomiting. When in doubt, the best course of action is to take them to the vet for a proper checkup. It’s better to be safe than sorry, after all.

Regular Vet Visits Are Key to Prevention

Bengal Cat and Yorkshire Terrier Sleeping in Bed Together
Image credit: Pexels

As pet parents, we love all the fur babies that run amok around our homes. The best way to keep on top of the health of your pets is with regular visits to the vet. It’s important to nip any emerging health problems in the bud straight away, particularly ones that may be transmissible.

It’s essential to stay on top of vaccinations and flea and worm treatments to prevent these issues from getting any worse. Most common pet issues are treatable, but you don’t want to let it get to a stage where it’s detrimental to your pet’s health. We all love our pets, and it’s normal to want them to be as healthy as possible.

Quarantining Sick Pets

Cat Lying Beside a Puppy in Yard
Image credit: Pexels

What’s worse than having one sick pet? Two of them (or more, if you’re a pet fanatic)! If one of your pets is feeling sick or perhaps infected with a transmissible disease, it’s best to keep them separate while your fur baby recovers. There are plenty of ways that you can make their quarantine space as comfy as possible.

Consider the following:

  • The first step is to determine who’s sick and go from there.
  • Fill the room with cozy blankets, water, food, and a place to go to the toilet.
  • Wash your hands after popping in to see your pal.
  • Clean any bedding or clothing that your sick pet has touched,
  • Get each pet their own separate food and water bowls.

Remember, you’re not isolating or abandoning them; you’re just keeping all pets safe from any illnesses further spreading.

Rest Easy; Dogs and Cats Rarely Transmit Disease

People Holding Siamese Cat and Chihuahua Dog
Image credit: Pexels

So, no matter what species of pet you have or how many furry companions you have running around your home, it’s good to know that they may get sick from one another. Be reassured by the fact that spreading between species is a rare occasion, so don’t overthink the choice of having a house full of pets.

As long as you take the right course of action if you notice any unusual symptoms, you know that you’re doing the best for your pets. A home full of cats and dogs can be a beautiful thing. Just stay up to date with your vet checkups, and if you’re unsure, ask them for advice on keeping your mixed-species home happy and healthy.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading